WHAT? The inaugural Wild & Slow Festival, heralded by organisers as “Europe’s largest wild food harvest market”. An ambitious claim, but this is an ambitious event. The result of months of very careful planning (see below) will be a wild harvest market, two days of wild food workshops and a Slow Food/Wild Food Dinner celebrating Wicklow’s Harvest on Saturday night.
WHEN? 19 & 20 November 2011
WHERE? BrookLodge Hotel, Macreddin Village (just outside Aughrim), Co Wicklow
WHY? Regular readers may remember I posted back in April about the early seeds of the project, which set out its stall with a series of beautifully produced templates providing an “almost-complete guide” to the foraging, harvesting and preservation of various wild foods available here in Ireland. (You can view these here: they range from wild garlic, sorrel and ceps through to elderflower and elderberries, rowanberries and rosehip.) As well as being a great educational tool, the idea behind these templates was to give forage-minded folk the necessary tools to go out and harvest some of the great abundance of food growing free in our hedges and highways, fields and shorelines. Each template comes complete with a bevvy load of lovely recipes too, the hope being that these would inspire an army of foragers to cook up a storm for this month’s harvest festival and then come sell that produce at the street market in Macreddin Village. Hence the claim of “Europe’s largest wild food harvest market”. With 20 stalls booked, that’s looking more likely than over-ambitious.
WHO? As well as that army of foragers, the Wild & Slow Festival organisers (headed up by food writer Biddy White Lennon, Brooklodge’s Evan Doyle and butcher/smoker Ed Hick) have pulled together a very impressive programme of workshops, running all day Saturday and Sunday. It’s hard to say what the highlights are – suffice to say that the line up includes big names such as Darina Allen, Derry Clarke and Ross Lewis, alongside real treats worth snuffling out: gamey wines, bee-keeping, photo-stalking, medicinal foraging and seaweed harvesting being just a few that are top of my list. See the full timetable here.
HOW MUCH? A nominal €5 cost is your ticket to any workshops you attend (the tickets themselves being available from a Slow Food stall on the street of Macreddin village during the weekend), but pre-booking is advised for these workshops as spaces are limited. (Click through here for the registration form, but note that registration is limited to five workshops per person and does not gaurantee a space, though it will greatly improve your chances!)
If you want to stay over, you can check out rates on the Slow Food website, with special rates for Slow Food members. Non-member rates per night cost €60–€125 pps, depending on which night – Saturday includes a Wild Food feast in BrookHall, which is limited to overnight guests for capacity purposes.
As an aside, all I know about the menu so far is that it includes a Wild Irish Cocktail from my For Food’s Sake buddy, Oisin Davis of The Sugar Club. I have no idea what he’ll be serving but I have no doubt it’ll be f&&king delicious, as Oisin might very well say himself. For an elaboration on his style of heady concoctions as well as his earthy turn of phrase, click through here.